California

She torched 1,665 bales of hay, then declared 'conspiracy' in live police chase video, cops say

Monica Louise Berlin, 39, suspected of setting two hay bale fires in Half Moon Bay, California, causing nearly $20,000 damage, posted a livestream to Facebook of officers pursuing her on Friday, police say. She was arrested in Atherton.
Monica Louise Berlin, 39, suspected of setting two hay bale fires in Half Moon Bay, California, causing nearly $20,000 damage, posted a livestream to Facebook of officers pursuing her on Friday, police say. She was arrested in Atherton. San Mateo County Sheriff's Department

Sirens wailing behind her, the 39-year-old woman went live on Facebook to narrate her own pursuit by police via video.

“Oh my god, this is so scary,” says Monica Louise Berlin in the 49-second video, which has since been taken down, reported The Mercury News. She’s accused of setting two hay bale fires in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco in California’s Bay Area, police say.

“I have all these police chasing me and I didn’t do anything illegal and I didn’t do anything wrong,” Berlin says as her 2004 Volvo station wagon passes other vehicles with police close behind, according to the publication.

“Oh my God, you guys,” she continues, reported The Mercury News. “Like I was covering this criminal conspiracy with the police department, and now they’re all chasing me, and it’s so scary. Oh my God! Oh my God! They’re going to shoot me, or something crazy …”

The video then cuts off, according to the publication.

San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department deputies finally caught up to Berlin when she pulled over in Atherton, about 20 miles from Half Moon Bay, and arrested her on suspicion of arson and outstanding warrants, reported KTVU.

On June 26, Berlin set fire to harvested hay bales at Highway 1 and Seymour Street in Half Moon Bay, sheriff’s officials told The San Francisco Chronicle. The 9:22 p.m. blaze destroyed 900 bales worth an estimated $10,800.

On Tuesday, a second fire at the same location at 9:51 p.m. burned 765 more bales at an additional loss of $9,180, reported the Chronicle.

Investigators determined that both fires were deliberately set.

A San Mateo sheriff’s deputy tried to pull over Berlin, of El Granada, at 6:51 p.m. Friday in connection with the arson investigation but she fled, prompting the police chase caught on her video, reported KNTV.

Nearby resident Mike Alifano told the Half Moon Bay Review that he spotted Berlin, whom he said looked “possessed,” filming the June 26 blaze from the street.

On July 3, Berlin falsely reported to police that Alifano and his family had been kidnapped, amid other bizarre behavior, he told the publication.

In 2015, Berlin sued San Mateo County supervisors, Foster City police and others claiming assault, libel and slander, reported the Half Moon Bay Review. Her civil suit was later dismissed.

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